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Meet Andries Wiese, Hollard’s new agri insurance head

27 September 2017 Hollard
Andries Wiese.

Andries Wiese.

When Andries Wiese retired to bed on 31 August, he took off his trademark green-rimmed glasses for the last time. The next morning, he donned a brand-new purple-and-orange pair.

Far more than merely indulging in a penchant for funky eyewear, Wiese was signalling an important professional move: from group manager for agri at Mutual & Federal, to head of Hollard Broker Markets’ Agri team.

It’s a new role that he relishes, and his set goal is to make Hollard, South Africa’s largest independent insurance company and second-largest short-term insurer, “the chosen and preferred, the favourite agricultural insurer”.

“The importance of the agricultural sector can be seen in the impact it has had on the economy and communities,” he says, referring to recent news that strong growth in the agriculture sector had led to quarter-on-quarter GDP growth of 2.5%, helping to lift South Africa out of its technical recession.

“This sector is critical for the country, and large parts of the country rely entirely on agri for their survival.”

Wiese’s passion for the agricultural sector goes beyond economics, however. He believes Hollard’s strong social conscience dovetails with his own and that of the agricultural sector, as a catalyst for sustainable and enduring positive change.

“There’s something bigger to agriculture than business. There’s a community, a social dividend to it. Agriculture is so much more than just a piece of land and a farm gate,” he says.

Wiese, like many people in the insurance industry, came to his career more by accident than design. He studied teaching at the University of Pretoria, and later an SMDP through the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Starting his insurance career with Santam and soon transferred to Nelspruit, he later joined Mutual & Federal, where he would spend 23 years – and live and work all over, including Upington, Bloemfontein, Krugersdorp, Bethlehem, Nelspruit (again) and Pretoria.

When Mutual & Federal bought out Sentrasure almost two decades ago, Wiese jumped at the opportunity to gain experience in the agricultural sector, “and that’s where I’ve been since”.

That’s also when Wiese’s green spectacle frames became his stock-in-trade – at least until he joined Hollard this month …

Wiese says he has specific plans for growing Hollard’s presence in the agricultural sector, not least of which is developing insurance products that are “meaningful and practical for the modern farmer”.

“We’re here to support the agricultural community and this is an opportunity [for me] to make a difference, with the backing of a group that has established its bona fides in other spheres,” says Wiese.

Aligned with this is Hollard’s “local is lekker” approach: offering local expertise to farmers. Wiese points out that different parts of South Africa experience widely different agricultural conditions, realities and needs, and the Agri team must be able to offer localised advice and tailored insurance cover.

“My relationship with Hollard is an easy fit, because Hollard is like a farmer: it makes a plan, and it comes up with practical solutions. It makes decisions that are right, and not only because they make commercial sense,” he says.

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